Sunday, 25 September 2016

7 Lessons Learned from Popcorn

7 Lessons Learned from Popcorn
by Shoshanah Shear

Every item, object, plant, animal or person has a purpose. We have the ability to take any event or item and elevate it by contemplating the lessons one can learn or what positive purpose that item has in this world. Let us take popcorn as an example. Popcorn is actually quite an amazing food product.

1) Popcorn is quite versatile, add a little salt and you have something savoury, add some sugar or sweetening and you have a sweet treat. String some thread through it or add a bit of food colouring and you can have a decorative treat too.

2) Have you noticed the wonderful variety of shapes with each popped corn? Each one is different. I am not sure if anyone has photographed popcorn and compared the shapes to the next batch, but in every pot, bowl or box of popcorn every one is unique. If we stop and think about this. Every person is unique too. More than this, there is an abundance in this world. Just look at the variety of shapes in each popcorn! To me this makes me stop and think there must be a Creator to this world. Let's look at a few more examples as to why there must be a Creator and what we can learn about our Creator.

3) Looking at popcorn, I'd say our Creator must be filled with kindness. Imagine, you can have a dried cob filled with corn that has gone hard and yet, it is not a waste! Take those hard seeds, place them in a pot with a little oil and some heat and in a short time the corn will have transformed from a hard seed that could break your teeth to something that is soft, versatile, tasty and even nutritious. It's low in calories, high in fibre and contains beneficial anti-oxidants. Isn't that great kindness to us. On top of that, everyone, from the age that they are old enough to eat it, likes popcorn.

4) Popcorn gives us hope and inspiration for our potential to grow and develop. Think about it for a bit. Popcorn undergoes a total transformation once placed in a pot with a little oil and heat. If that is the good that can come out of a few hard seeds, think about the potential for every person who is filled with far more than the hard seeds are. If we apply ourselves correctly, we too can grow, change and develop to become who we are supposed to be and give goodness and happiness to the world.

5) Popcorn is quite magical and gives excitement to others. Once again I regard this as a kindness from our Creator. Mostly popcorn is yellow. We already mentioned the transformation of shape that takes place, but popcorn changes it's colour too and becomes a fluffy white that can accept any other colour when the food colouring mentioned above is applied.

6) Popcorn is such a gift. It makes watching a movie or attending a party so much more fun. For those who love popcorn at the movies, doesn't it provide the perfect way to occupy your hands and mouth while you settle into the idea of the movie? By the time you have finished your popcorn, you are absorbed into the story-line and able to concentrate despite sitting still for a long time.

7) Personally, I think popcorn is one of those items that proves there must be a Creator. What scientist or other person would be able to come up with an item that has so much that it offers. Who would be able to make such a total transformation in terms of consistency, shape, colour, texture and to come out with variety, positive lessons and nourishment too?

Next time you enjoy your popcorn, consider all the wonderful lessons that simple popcorn offers. What a wonderful way to elevate your healthy snack and use that time for good. Let the food for thought fill you with inspiration and motivation to apply your skills to something positive and productive.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Remembering Who We Are as Rosh HaShanah Approaches

It's Elul and with just over two weeks to Rosh HaShanah, there is much work to be done. Are you aware of the work required during the month of Elul? How are you progressing with your introspection and inner reflection? Is it helping you to do Teshuvah? Are you managing to revise your goals for the coming year?

Whether you are aware of how we as Jews should be spending Elul, whether you are struggling or even if you are very involved in preparing for Rosh HaShanah, the video below produced by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is important to watch. It takes almost 6 and half minutes to watch but the content is packed with meaning and very moving.

 "Why I am a Jew" ... a message for everyone.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Holiness of the Mikvah According to Most vs The Holy Ari

 Guest Post by Rabbi Eliyhau Shear

This guest post was written initially as a FaceBook post. It has been so well written that I  requested to post it as a guest post on this blog. As funny as the information below is, it has a sad and sobering message. Do you go to the Mikvah? If so, which of the two groups do you fit into?

These are some of the customs I have noticed people doing in the Mikvah in order to bring holiness upon themselves - versus the holy Ari - the greatest of Kabbalists certainly in the last 500 years. I specifically refer to the immersion on Erev Shabbos - but some of the holy customs I have listed below have actually been seen during the week as well.

According to Most - Customs Include:
1. Doing Yoga before immersion - in the changing room. Detail of level of dress will remain undisclosed.

2. Doing chin-ups on the shower bars placed there to keep the shower cubicles separated from each other. Level of clothing will once again remain undisclosed - and the one who is understanding will understand.

3. Screaming. This can be at any time. Sometimes while doing Yoga as in one above, and at other times - even after immersion - just to let others know you've been. It can also indicate some sort of action to terrify others in letting them know how pure you have now become (I mean obviously!)

4. Immersing in the freezing Mikvah. This must be accompanied by loud dunks and one must do many (very many) so that everyone can know how much you are suffering.

5. Bring your kids along - even if they are only 3 - and make sure you give them water guns so that they can really enjoy the swim and shoot everyone else in the Mikvah. If you're the Dad, pay no attention to anyone asking if you could kindly tell your kids to stop shooting their guns.

6. When immersing in the freezing Mikvah, make sure after a hundred or so dunks - to face those in the warm Mikvah and give them a big smile - so that they'll give you a lot of honour for your bravery in just standing in the water accomplishing absolutely nothing.

7. When showering after the Mikvah - make sure to sing (any song even if it is doesn't exist - just so that whatever melody you come up with gets stuck in the minds of others.) Also make animal sounds - and I guess any other sound that will be sure to irritate and maybe even frighten everyone else out of the Mikvah as fast as possible.

Some Other Essentials!
In winter when it's really cold outside, make sure to open all the windows and the main door - to bring in some extra wind and cold. Who knows, maybe when it snows, the snow will come through into the main Mikvah area as well - and it will really be a lot of fun to play with!

Custom of the Holy Ari on Erev Shabbos
Immerse twice in the Mikvah. Once to remove the weekday soul. Once to intend for the Shabbos soul that enters one for Shabbos. Don't dry with a towel but let the water from the Mikvah be absorbed into the body.

No yoga at any time. No water guns. No chin-ups necessary. No shouting or screaming - even if the water is freezing. No need to immerse 400 times without breathing or taking a moment to reflect on the purpose of the actual immersion. Consider the teaching, "Love your fellow as you love yourself," if your fellow is around.

Take your pick and enjoy your next Mikvah immersion.

BeHatzlacha and Bi'Vracha

If you would like to learn how you should actually immerse in the Mikvah and why Mikvah immersion is important be sure to sign up to learn with Rabbi Eliyahu Shear. Rabbi Shear has a Semichah in both Niddah and Mikvah and is a Chatan teacher. If you visit our website, please be patient as the website is currently in the process of being upgraded.


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